The most important thing to understand about the metabolism is that it is changeable. In fact, that is its very purpose.
The metabolism is always working towards balance or homeostasis. This natural action of the metabolism to adapt and react is systematically ignored in the weight loss industry.
Think like a fisherman
Imagine you are a fisherman and are using a particular type of bait. In the beginning the bait works and you catch some fish. You are happy and your family stays fed.
But what would you do if the bait stops working? It’s very simple isn’t it? You would change your bait until you found something else that worked. Only a crazy person would continue doing something that obviously no longer works.
If you are a good fisherman, you would probably have a handful of lures that you learned through experience worked better with certain fish and in certain situations. You would skillfully change your approach when it was required.
This is how you must start to think about weight loss.
Most experts will tell you there is only one lure and you must use that no matter what. In this analogy, that “lure” is the eat less, exercise more approach. If it does not work, or stops working, then they will tell you that you are lazy and just need to throw your line in the water more. They will tell you that you are not trying hard enough.
In the weight loss industry, anyone not getting results can easily be dismissed as “lazy” or “a glutton” or “non compliant.”
They are completely wrong in my opinion. Using one approach, such as the eat less, exercise more method, is like being stuck with only one type of bait. Maybe it works, and maybe it doesn’t, but it is unlikely to always work or work for long.
Working with the metabolism
Knowing that the metabolism is changeable and always adapting should not make you uncomfortable. This is incredibly valuable information.
What it means is that you need to use a flexible approach, one that works with the way the metabolism works. This approach will keep the metabolism from adapting and keep you burning fat.
I have written previously on the exact science of metabolic compensation as well as the different types of tools you can use to push the metabolism to bend to your will.
You can read about metabolic compensation HERE. And the 4 metabolic toggles HERE. You also may want to check out this blog of the 5 laws of metabolism HERE. These three articles will get the science buff and skeptics up to speed.
For the remainder of this blog I want to give you some insight into my clinical practice. There are three major mistakes I see most people make and six different fixes based off of these mistakes.
The 6 Metabolic Killers
“Metabolic Killers” is a marketing term coined by a group of marketing experts I work with. The name came out of their questions to me when they were coming up with content to sell my best-selling workout program Metabolic Aftershock.
I liked the name because it grabs your attention. I also liked the name because I see these mistakes being made so frequently, and the fixes are so easy, that it really is like killing your metabolic potential when you make these mistakes.
The three areas are:
- Eating frequency. Are you eating too infrequently or too frequently?
- Carbohydrate intake. Are you eating too many or too little carbs?
- Eating window. Are you eating within a narrow timeframe or a wide timeframe?
Let’s cover each of these six in detail.
Eating frequency (foodaphobes and munchaholics)
Some people are more foodaphobe and others are more like munchaholics. In other words, some skip meals and others snack all the time.
It is important to remember that the metabolism is changeable. It is also useful to know that most people eat the same frequency of meals each day.
Some eat 4-6 small meals per day. Some prefer 1-3 bigger meals per day. Contrary to what you may have heard, both science and my clinical experience say neither is superior to the other. Both can work, and both can fail miserably depending on the person.
I have seen very lean and healthy people eat only a few times a day. I have also seen the same types of people eat multiple times a day.
However, the leanest and most savvy people alter their approach whether consciously or unconsciously and this works with, rather than against, the metabolism.
Remember the fishing lure analogy? Having one set number of meals you eat day in and day out, month after month and year after year is a great way to help the metabolism adapt and stay stuck.
Changing it up, by switching from less frequent to more frequent meals or vice-versa, is a devastatingly effective strategy to get your metabolism responding again.
So if you are a foodaphobe and are convinced you should eat infrequent meals, that may be the thing killing your metabolism and keeping it from getting results.
If you are a munchaholic and are convinced small frequent meals is the way, that too may be what is blocking your success.
The trick is to recognize your issue and correct it by doing the opposite of what you normally do. This forces the metabolism to respond. It is like changing the bait so you can start catching fish again.
Just be aware, you may need to switch back again because the metabolism is always changing. Knowing you have more than one approach and tool is incredibly helpful.
Eating too frequently or infrequently are the first two metabolic killers.
Carb intake (carbophobes and carboholics)
You have likely heard the debate for years right? The argument goes like this: don’t eat too many carbs because that will raise blood sugar and release insulin. Insulin is a fat storing hormone and you can never burn fat if you have too much.
People who have learned a mechanism like this repeat it with confidence because they feel solid in their understanding. The only issue is that there are a million other mechanisms in the body as well as actions for insulin.
For example, insulin is also a hunger suppressing hormone and a muscle building hormone. Without it you will be hungry all the time and increase your risk of becoming a mushy bag of bones.
In addition, skipping carbs can raise other hormones like cortisol that when unchecked can create the same insulin resistance that excess carbs result in.
There is way more to it then that, but this is a lesson to not get trapped in single biochemical mechanisms. They will almost always get you in trouble.
So the trick is to become like Goldilocks, not too much, not too little but just right.
If you eat very little carbs and are a carbophobe then, to keep your metabolism on its toes and function correctly, you may want to eat a bit more.
At the same time, if you are someone who over-consumes carbs, a carboholic, then you may need to dramatically decrease them.
If you are dealing with one of these two metabolic killers (i.e. too much or too little carb), adjusting your carb intake up or down may be the thing that finally gets you moving again.
Your eating window
This one is not often talked about, but the amount of time you spend eating in a day impacts metabolic function.
There are those who eat in a narrow window of time. They may skip breakfast and have their first meal at noon. Their last meal may be at eight in the evening. These are “narrow window eaters.” They eat in a more narrow 8 hour eating window.
Then there are the types who have their first meal at 6am and their last meal at 8pm. They eat in a much wider window of time, consuming their food over 14 hours.
If you are a wide window eater you may benefit from adopting a more narrow window eating pattern. If you are a more narrow window eater, you might benefit from going more wide with your eating.
How to find your metabolic killer
Just like the fisherman, it is insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over without getting results. The metabolism is an adaptive and reactive system and you need to be adaptive and reactive too.
Can you see the folly in applying solutions that do not change to a metabolism that is expert at adapting? I hope you can.
There are many different types of metabolic killers, but these six are some of the most common I have seen over the years. You are probably wondering which are most important. After all, you could be dealing with any number of these and more than one right?
Well, if you came to see me in my clinic I could help you address which one is most important. But luckily you don’t have to do that anymore.
The company I partnered with to sell and market my workout program Metabolic Aftershock (they actually are the owners of the program) worked with me to develop an online quiz to help determine your #1 metabolic killer.
The quiz is free for you to access. If you don’t immediately know from reading this article what your metabolic killer might be, it would be useful to take this quiz.
Just understand the quiz is attached to a marketing campaign for Metabolic Aftershock, but if you have not seen that workout you will want to get it anyway as it is by far the most successful workout program I have ever put together for those short on time, who want big results for minimal effort.
I think because it is so convenient (no weights or other equipment required and only 15 minutes), so doable (all ages, physical abilities and fitness levels can use) and so effective (I have seen this program take off over 20 pounds in only 9 weeks).
- Go take the metabolic killer quiz
- Based on your results make the single change it suggests
- Consider getting the metabolic aftershock workout program. By switching up your metabolic killer AND engaging in a brand new workout for 9 weeks, your metabolism won’t know what hit it and you are sure to burn up a huge amount of fat in a short amount of time.